Port Alberni’s Angel Magnussen lived her dream this October when she competed in a bodybuilding competition.
Angel’s desire to compete stemmed from admiration towards women bodybuilders she saw in photos hanging on the wall at her gym. Her goal manifested into reality after more than a year of hard work and determination.
The a 21-year-old Port Alberni woman with down syndrome took part in the NPAA BC Championship Bodybuilding Competition in Vancouver on Oct. 21. She competed in the Novice Bikini category and took home the Heart Award.
“She’s the first woman with down syndrome to ever enter a bodybuilding competition,” said Angel’s mom Cheryl Magnussen. “We’re seeing more males with down syndrome that are starting to compete in the States so it’s a whole new ground for [Angel] to walk the stage with everybody else.”
The NPAA Heart Award is to recognize a competitor that has transformed more than just their life and appearance; they have transformed the lives of others. According to the NPAA, the award is for a special athlete who has shown heart in their journey to the stage and who despite obstacles has persevered.
For someone who has low muscle tone, Cheryl said Angel’s progress has been nothing short of inspiring.
“It takes [Angel] much more energy and much more effort to take that step than it takes you because with low muscle tone your body is that much heavier, muscles weigh that much more and they don’t have the ability to hold your body so it often delays progress,” Cheryl said. “She’s testing those muscles to the maximum and working really hard to build them and sustain.”
Angel trained five days a week for more than a year at Alberni Fitness Gym with her personal trainer Nomi Samson to prepare for her first competition.
Samson said Angel has made tremendous progress since beginning her fitness journey, who before would get tired and need to sit down from merely walking to her neighbours.
Training has strengthened Angel’s ankles, core and all around fitness level.
“It’s very inspiring,” Samson said. “I’ve had a few new clients who were procrastinating but then saw all [Angel’s] progress on my (Facebook) wall and that inspired them.”
Angel has lost close to 50 pounds since beginning her workout routine through training at the gym and eating healthy.
Keeping her grounded and determined to continue working out everyday, Angel finds inspiration from Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson and the family-like environment at Alberni Fitness.
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After winning the Heart Award, The Rock even gave Angel a shoutout on Instagram, writing “AWESOME!! Congratulations,” on a photo from her at the competition.
This is only the beginning for Angel. She continues to work hard and train towards a goal of entering both a Novice Bikini and Fitness category during a bodybuilding competition in 2018.
“It’s going to take a good year of work on a regular basis to build those muscles up,” Cheryl said. “We haven’t chosen her next competition yet, we will wait to see when we think she’s ready.”
When she’s not training, Angel keeps busy by sewing blankets for sick kids around the world with her foundation Hugginz by Angel. She fundraises for several charities in Canada and for families that have critically ill children. Earlier this year Angel was named Canada’s nicest person from Roots Canada.
Angel’s photo will now hang on the gym’s wall among the women she looks up to.